Many of us would agree that media’s purpose is to inform the public an unbiased view of noteworthy events. I have often heard media referred to as the watchdog for the public. However, is that really the purpose of all the media outlets? When it comes down to it, every business is in the business to make money (except of course for non-profit organizations).
The media tends to get their funds, make their money, through advertisements placed in their media. TV news shows and radio shows play advertisements in commercials. Online media may insert them on the webpage that has whichever news article the consumer is trying to access. Newspapers and magazines place them throughout their content as well. Even though newspapers and magazines are usually bought or subscribed to, the bulk of their money still comes from advertisements.
Stories that they media portray, however, are not always presented in this unbiased way that we assume they are being brought to us in. In order to excite the public and draw in more viewers, and in turn more money from advertisers, stories may become sensationalized. They may exaggerate certain facts and put emphasis on certain people or aspects of the story based on what they think may draw viewers, or readers or listeners depending on the type of media outlet, in and keep them there.
Ever hear the expression: “if it bleeds, it leads”? It’s the idea that if a new station has a list of events to report for a particular newscast the story with blood or death involved be the top reported story most others like a new high school opening. A story that bleeds is more likely to excite the public so that is what is going to be reported to draw in viewers.
As long as money is the driving force behind media outlets, they will continue to report news in a sensationalized and distorted way as that is how they will attract a wider view of the public.